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Punishment Of Luxury/His-stories /Laughing Academy at 40


Laughing Academy at 40

‘One memory 40 years on’ – Neville Luxury on ‘Laughing Academy’ at 40…

Laughing in the back of our Mercedes 608D while weaving at a snail’s pace, escaping London, Jamie negotiating with sleeping policemen, and bumps in the road while Will, our other tour technician assessed the summer smells from Camden and Tottenham Court road. Stephen pondering the drum sound, Brian checking the vocals, Jimi examining the bass and Nev reflecting on the first album. </p> <p>Vicki ate Peapods and shared fresh bread while tour manager Sista Suzie organised within our touring temple everything including gear, food and fuel.<br /> There was much joy and discussion in our mobile metal tomb about Bilbo’s final cut of the vinyl, which was a live take from the ¼” master tape, and we agreed that we very much liked what Mike Howlett and Aldo Bocca had helped us to create.</p> <p>We completed Laughing Academy quite quickly as we were fresh from lots of touring and we all felt that all the atmosphere was embodied within the album.<br /> We enjoyed our long journey back up the A1 reflecting our next episodes on the road.<br /> Great times

Nev 3 9 2019

Punishment Of Luxury: Puppet Life – The Complete Recordings, 5CD Boxset is released on October 25th.

Written By: Punilux

Comments: 8

  • Yanush

    Reply January 23, 20204:50 pm

    Another memory – 40 years on. This time from the other side of the table; and in several(ish) parts as and when I get time.; a young fan’s journey into Punilux.
    Part One
    The first time I ever heard Punishment Of Luxury was one Sunday afternoon in 1979, around May, when Annie Nightingale played Jellyfish on her Radio 1 show. I was in my early teens, rather self-conscious and, at that time, along with a good mate at school, pretty much obsessed with Devo and The Stranglers. I may even have had the radio on to see if any tracks from Devo’s new album, Duty Now For The Future, were featured.
    Jellyfish stood out a mile, and by the end of that first hearing I was left wondering “Did I actually like that?” On the face of it, it seemed like some kind of comedy / novelty record, and the outrageous John Noakes impersonation at the end did nothing to dispel that possibility. And for sure, there was both comedy and novelty to it; but there seemed to be something more going on. It sounded like nothing else I’d heard – utterly distinctive; and despite the aquatic puns and references, and the mannered vocal delivery that placed at least one tentacle in the ‘novelty’ camp, there was a sense of panic and unease generated by the choppy, staccato guitar that propelled the song forward, particularly during the “Do the Jellyfish” instrumental break. I was baffled and intrigued.
    About a week later – on this occasion, hoping to do so – I heard Jellyfish again, this time on the Andy Peebles programme (Peebles referring to “Punishment Of Luxury, or pyoonilux for short”). And this time I knew full well that I liked it, and the following weekend, I headed into the city centre to pick up a copy.
    On the bus back home, I studied the cover, intrigued by the band pic on the back, four guys in knitted full-face balaclavas that seemed to fit well with the one song I’d heard so far. That and the front cover left me keen to hear Engine of Excess, which, the cover told me, was actually the lead-track rather than Jellyfish. The impression that this second track would make on me would determine if Punilux had any chance of further investigation, or if Jellyfish was a one-off, a curio in my rather slowly expanding record collection.
    Neither track disappointed. I was young and my musical tastes were developing, and it was a surprise how much Engine of Excess differed from the track that had hooked me in. I suppose I’d been expecting something akin to Jellyfish Part Two. But there was some relief in learning that they were most definitely not a novelty act, that EOE had pace, energy and bite. I liked the way the vocals swung between at least two people, and that the man delivering Jellyfish wasn’t stuck in that register. I knew that further investigation was warranted. I had been well and truly greeted by the Punilux tentacles.

  • Rolf

    Reply February 14, 20209:00 am

    How to become a fan, part 2
    I can’t remember how or why, but I saw Punilux around 1980 in the Markthalle, Hamburg. This gig blew me away with a very powerful mix of complex and intelligent songs that had a little punky but also a musical attitude (I like it when songs are so expressive that they could be parts of a musical). It seemed to be the best concert I ever saw and I’d been instantly hooked. The next day I bought “Laughing academy”. The album became a top ten alltime favourite of mine (it still is) and I played the vinyl to death. Same with “7” a few years later. It was a real loss to me when you disbanded, as I’d been delighted, when I saw Punilux on stage again at youtube movies around 2010 or so… And now there is this website! I hope I will see you playing live again… Whatever you’re working nowadays to make some money: Don’t forget that you are talented artists with a bunch of real (and of course really old) fans that will not forget any of your works. – Feel the duty 🙂

    • Yanush

      Reply February 19, 202012:10 pm

      Rolf, I envy you seeing Punilux live back in their original phase! I’ve seen them a few times since reformation and they’re still excellent, but I imagine a much more ‘kinetic’ and visual experience back in the day. If you can tell us any more, I’d love to hear it.
      If you’ve missed out on any of the other stuff (Revolution By Numbers, Gigantic Days, Feels Like Dancing Wartime) you should definitely snap up the box set. It also includes some great live stuff from around the time you saw them.
      I’ll be posting a bit more about my own route to Laughing Academy soon

    • Theo Katze

      Reply October 1, 20213:00 pm

      Hi Rolf – I got the Poster from that gig for sale – it stays in Berlin. You can reach me at info@recordinglights.com ciao

      • Gianfranco

        Reply January 29, 20246:54 am

        Hi Theo Katze, i sent you an e-mail, greetings from Peru. I want 2 files of The Strokes please <3

  • Rolf

    Reply March 12, 20209:48 pm

    Hi Yanush,
    I’m sorry, but I cannot tell much more about the gig. All I can remember is, that I talked to Hamburgs Zick-Zack Indie labelmaker Alfred Hilsberg – who I thought would have been the organizer of the concert – saying, that he will get out of his financial crisis if he’ll manage to get more of bands like these. Nowadays I think he had no idea what I was talking about.
    I don’t even know if i’d been there accidentally or if I ‘d heard some music at John Peel’s before. But the combination of this concert and the laughing academy vinyl were overwhelming and from that day on I had them on my radar. – Years later, when we had the internet and Napster, there was a guy who shared his Berlin Kant Kino bootleg. He recorded with a small Walkman cassette recorder and it sounded not very good. But that was the first time I heard the demon and brain bomb. Really cool. – I had another moment of joy, when I found another laughing academy vinyl on a stroll through a flea market around 2009. My original vinyl was worn out and I sold it. Now I had the good sound back and I immediately digitized it. So these are my little Punilux stories… The next one will be about my Newcastle trip, when a 2020 gig is announced on this website.

    P.S. I have the box set. I’ve been so curious about 5. Best track for me is cry.

  • Yanush

    Reply September 16, 20212:08 pm

    Here the story of my early-teenage route to the acquisition of Laughing Academy continues, but doesn’t conclude 🙂

    Having acquired ‘Jellyfish/Engine Of Excess’ and seen Punilux performing on Alright Now, thereafter snapping up a copy of the Puppet Life single (see comments on the Alright Now thread) I was eager for more.

    As an early teen I was of limited means. My paper-round money largely funded my attendance at Leeds United home matches (imagine that! Days when a mere paper-round could fund entry into fortnightly top-flight professional football). I was an avid reader of the music press, but only as avid as one could be when much of this reading was done via yet-to-be-sold copies in a local newsagent, where staff would tolerate only so much blatant freeloading; so I would scour the pages of NME and Melody Maker as best I could, knowing that my cousin sometimes actually bought Sounds and would allow a much more leisurely read of the latest edition and the back issues that he kept.

    I would spring for a copy of NME or MM myself now and then, if there was an interview or review that I was particularly keen to savour, and so I also had my own stack of back issues to go through in search of additional information on this strangely named band; and I was able to find a handful of reviews and interviews. I recall talk of a song called ‘Obsession’ featuring a mock castration scene in the live version, and one called ‘Pouf’ that they had to drop due to audience misunderstandings, a history in street theatre in which something called ‘Axe Me Another’ was a favourite, the bass player Jimi talking about getting punched in the face by a “disco smoothie” for saying ‘hi’ to his girlfriend, oh and the imminent arrival of a debut album, Laughing Academy!

    When the album came out, I spotted the review in NME and decided that, for research purposes, I could budget for my own copy of the paper. I wish I’d kept it, but I read it so many times that even now I recall references to Devo, and possibly The Stranglers (my two undisputed favourites at the time). Something about the ‘puppet-baboons of de-evolution stumbling into view’ on the album cover, the ‘venomous put-downs’ of All White Jack and British Baboon, the ‘carefully contrived sense of panic’ of the music (though that might have been from another review) and the sign off: ‘Go and get a share of the rewards’.
    On my paper-boy money, with football to fund, the price of an album – even then – meant one had to be absolutely certain before blowing a week’s wages on one item, but I knew then that I would definitely have to have this record, and really hoped that they wouldn’t let me down – and out of pocket – in the same way that PiL’s debut album (which I hated, despite having loved the single) had.

    A minor fly in the ointment and drain on my limited resources was the imminent arrival of ‘The Raven’*, the new one by The Stranglers, which I absolutely had to have. That one felt like an absolute banker, and would be prioritised above all else.

    *The Raven was released with a limited edition 3D cover (of dubious quality); and although I went to the city centre on the day of release, I missed out on the special cover, not least because Hank Marvin was in HMV for some reason, with the attendant crowds making it impossible to gain access. I’ve cursed the man’s name ever since.

  • Yanush

    Reply September 3, 202211:15 am

    The saga continues…

    Having blown my meagre budget on Leeds United and The Stranglers, I had to bide my time where Laughing Academy was concerned. But whenever me and my mate went to Leeds city centre ahead of the football, we’d do the record shop rounds, and I’d invariably pick up a copy of the album, stare at it, and wonder.

    Unlike some of the other bands I was listening to I knew nobody else who was into Punilux, and therefore had nobody to draw upon to give me a loan-listen of the album (although, then again, where I was planning to devote the funds to the purchase of an album, I generally wanted the thrill of hearing it for the first time on my own copy). But I was young and in certain respects quite impressionable; and so, when I spotted Laughing Academy in a second-hand record shop – in good condition, and cheaper than first-hand – my initial response wasn’t to snap it up, but rather to wonder why somebody had ditched it so quickly. The tastes of a complete stranger I’d never met put me on the back foot, but I decided that if the record was there the next time I went in, it was meant to be, and I’d have it. Needless to say, it had gone.

    Some time before Christmas, the single ‘Secrets / Brainbomb’ came out. But I didn’t catch any radio play. I saw the cover and have to admit to being disappointed that the band weren’t sporting the wrestling masks, but as the outlay for a single was less of a drain on paper-round, I decided I’d snap up a copy and use this as a litmus test for whether or not to splash out on the album.

    I have to admit, my first response (and not one that has lasted down the years) to ‘Secrets’ was one of ‘Hmmmm!’ I kind of liked it but, for me, it lacked the quirky, sinister strangeness of Puppet Life and Jellyfish and the drive of Engine of Excess. But it wasn’t a total bust, as ‘Brainbomb’ was astonishing. Would the album be more in the vain of ‘Secrets’ or ‘Brainbomb’?

    I know what you’re thinking; “Jeez, just buy the album, for crying out loud!”. But remember, I wasn’t awash with disposable cash.

    A solution loomed. Even though in my teens, my folks would still get me something in for Christmas, and so I decided to ask for ‘Laughing Academy’ (as well as Hugh Cornwell’s ‘Nosferatu’). That way, if it was a wrong move, it would only put a minor dent into the waning magic of Christmas, rather than into my diminutive financial resources. Plus, there’d be instant added anticipation built into the ‘big day’. All I had to do was count down the days, and apply some degree of self-discipline to not sneak a play of a track or two ahead of time, once I knew my folks had acquired the goods.

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